Though not the first thing most will think of at the mention of AIDS or HIV, the virus can have a lasting and detrimental effect on the oral health of those infected. This World AIDS Day, on the 1st December 2020, we will be giving you an insight into how AIDS can affect dental health.
What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, attacks and weakens the body’s defence against disease. The National AIDS Trust reported that in 2018, there were 103,800 people living with HIV in the UK, however around 1 in 14 of those with the virus are unaware of it and so the true number is almost certainly higher.
For those with HIV/AIDS, it is vital to understand the impact the virus can have on your oral health and to know what to do should you develop a tooth infection, in order to prevent it becoming life threatening.
What impact can AIDS have on oral health?
As dentists, we see the impact this disease can have on people’s oral health. HIV/AIDS makes you more susceptible to infections, including dental infections. If untreated, this can lead to tooth loss.
The virus can also lead sufferers to experience issues such as painful mouth ulcers, inflamed gums (also known as Gingivitis) and ulcerative periodontitis, which is when the gum begins to recede away from your teeth and ulcerate. These issues all makes the mouth more susceptible to future infections, which your body’s weakened immune system can struggle to fight off.
If a tooth of a person with AIDS becomes infected, there can be dangerous and even life-threatening complications. Unfortunately, there is often no option other than removal of the tooth, leaving the patient with a gap in their smile, and more difficulty in chewing.
Not only can this impact their mental health and confidence, but it also means that the remaining teeth are left more exposed and vulnerable to wear and tear. Whilst dental implants offer a permanent and reliable way to replace missing teeth, we’d rather help our patients keep their own teeth wherever possible.
Time to get talking about AIDS and oral health
In light of World AIDS Day, we believe it’s an important time to shed a light on the true impacts of the disease and its relation to oral health. If you know someone with AIDS, it’s important to encourage them to look after their teeth, and to see a dentist if any issues arise as soon as possible.
If you are someone who is living with AIDS and perhaps even lost teeth as a result, you do not have to live with gaps in your smile, please get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to talk about what options are available to you.
Contact us by calling 01873 857400 or fill out our online form, by clicking here.
To find out more about the World AIDS Day campaign, check out the official website, here: https://www.worldaidsday.org/